The Evolution of the Small Business Workplace


Whether you are a sole proprietor, run a company of under ten employees or under a hundred, utilization of traditional office space has changed.

Expectations of employees working from the office every day have changed, and the ability to Telework, Cloudwork, Cowork or even “Prowork” are appealing options for employees and entrepreneurs alike. If you understood Telework, but weren’t sure of the other options meant in the last sentence, don’t be alarmed. There are emerging working options that you should be aware of that don’t involve a traditional 8 to 5 office job in Canada or around the world. Here are some definitions of these terms for you to consider.

  1. Teleworking or Telecommuting – Teleworking is a fairly well known term to working from a home office, calling in to conference calls, contacting clients from your home office, and other work. Instead of battling gridlock on highways or public transit it involves working from your home, favorite coffee shop, or other places you can take calls and e-mails in a professional way. As use of internet tools such as GoToMeeting, Webex, Skype, Office 365 and Google Apps for Business have become more popular, the term “Teleworker” has become somewhat passé. Teleworking has changed to….
  2. Cloudworking  - A Cloudworker is someone that collaborates with clients, colleagues, partners and suppliers over the internet. The nature of their job may involve a great deal of travel to client sites, or maybe working from home just makes more sense than the expense of real estate, mileage, telecommunications and bandwidth that can be just as easily be channeled to a VOIP phone, land line or smartphone.  They might work from home, join their less technology-empowered telecommuter ancestors at the coffee shops, or work in a collaborative community at a
  3. Coworking Space – Coworking spaces are usually open concept offices, lofts, converted industrial spaces or other space festooned with WiFi, injected with caffeine, and bursting with creativity. Small businesses of under ten people might rent a large office in a coworking space, and partner with other businesses in the space. Large technology corporations often encourage their employees to work in coworking spaces to have “creative collisions” with startups, and potentially learn new and innovative ways to approach development, different business models and possibly recruit from the entrepreneurial types. Small businesses, developers, bloggers and researchers have been connecting in coworking space “jellies” for a number of years, however coworking is becoming a universal opportunity for saving money, reducing commuting, reducing the need for corporate office space and stimulating collaboration for all types of businesses. Coworking between microbusinesses and large businesses that commercial real estate firm Jones, Lang and LaSalle  has coined a new term called…
  4. Proworking. Proactive working empowers the employee to select their way of working, whether it be working from home, a coworking/virtual office space or a corporate office. Although coworking purists might turn up their nose at large corporations wedging their way into coworking and try to mold it for their benefit, it does move the cause forward for coworking spaces, fill up hot desks and long term spots, and also varies the skillset and increases revenue flowing into coworking facilities. Hoteling spaces in corporate offices are becoming the norm instead of the rarity, and in person meetings and water cooler conversations are being replaced by virtual meetings, web conferences, and tele-presence meetings for large companies with the technology. Google Hangouts, Microsoft Lync and GoToMeeting is replacing the in person meeting for many smaller businesses.

Although there is reportedly a growing amount of office space that is going vacant, some companies are participating in “Space Exchanges” to provide each businesses with suitable spaces for their needs they may not otherwise have had access to. The age of owning your own desk and decorating it like your home seems to be a thing of the past, and the smartphone and electronic, portable desktop on a hot desk is replacing the blotter and landline phone of the last century.

What unique ways do you conduct business in today's environment? Let us know in the comments below.